Betrayal Trauma: Anarie's Definition of Success

In our last episode Anarie shares her experience with betrayal trauma. At the end of the interview I had stopped the recording just before she made another important and insightful comment. She apologized for not having a “success” story. Knowing that comment would lead into a valuable conversation I asked to continue recording and if I could share that conversation with the audience.

This episode picks up right after Anarie’s success comment and contains our real-time conversation on the definition of success. Within this episode Anarie mentions my divorce which I have written about here.

Anarie also mentions she found comfort around how I have defined therapeutic success. This comment was in reference to a comment I made within my Facebook group, on this post.

That comment was as follows:
“Thank you so much for posting this, I actually have a podcast planned on this very topic. I don't have much time to thoroughly address this topic, but there is a few problems here. However, before I share my concerns; there are many amazing therapists out there who give everything they have and have been instrumental in saving marriages. Now the problems with some therapists:

1) This is a complicated one, and unless you've trained to become a therapist and tried to make a living solely as a therapist, it’s difficult to understand. But the education system, career path to therapy is completely unsupportive of private practice.

2) The stats (and MHO, and a problem with gottman) is the stats are stupid and measuring the wrong outcomes. You don't measure success on marriages "saved". This is potentially ethically wrong. I've worked with too many therapists who attempt to "save" marriages even in abuse. My job as a marriage therapist isn't to "save" or end a marriage. But to guide, support two individuals to healthy living and how to navigate the differences in loving and support ways. Sometimes thats separation. Too many therapist enable unhealthy relationships to "save" a marriage, so not good.

3) Kind of related to number one. There are occasional exceptions, but marriage therapy shouldn't go beyond a year or two at the most. Ideally 1-12 months, with follow ups as needed. Any longer is indicative of individuals needs for underlying mental health issues that would do best treated in individual counseling. One of the first things I tell my clients is I’m working my self out of a job from day one. After about 6 months we revisit and if progress isn't made I may make suggestions for alternative treatment or therapist. Which leads me to 4...

4) Why is it such a concern therapist are working with couples for a decade or more? Two reasons; enabling and the therapist becomes part of the family system.

5) Clients are not adequately informed by the therapist or what therapy is for. Too many spouses arrive at therapy to convenience the other that they are wrong. They use the therapist to get the other to change, without changing themselves. This is called triangulating.

There are many great therapists out there, but we need to do a better job at communicating the purpose of therapy, the therapist role and the clients role.

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